As someone who’s actually worked as a freelance journalist, all I can say to the New York Times is “horsefeathers!”
Note that our rules on free travel and other free or discounted products and services are stricter than those of many publications. Even if such a benefit is not directly connected to a Times assignment, it can create an appearance that undermines the credibility of The Times or its contributors. Any questions involving such benefits should be discussed with your Times editor.
First of all, Phil (I can call you Phil, right?), freelancers getting free travel is not the real reason your credibility’s been undermined. May I be blunt, Phil? It’s the shit you put on the front page that’s the problem.
And frankly, this whole idea that the prestige of writing for the Times should be worth any sacrifice is the proverbial dead horse. Because I know of people who have written for the Times who are having trouble keeping the lights on, and if taking an industry freebie allows them to write a piece for some other publication that will help them get the power turned back on, I say more power to them. Literally.
I am tired of a journalism industry that wants to have it both ways, with highly-paid, temperamental show horses at the top of the bill, and desperate freelancer work horses at the bottom.
Hey, here’s a thought: If you are so worried about the outside activities of your freelancers, why not hire them full-time? Why not cut the pay of the show horses and put some money into the pockets of the horses that pull the plows?
Or you could just shut the fuck up about your “credibility.” You don’t have any.